Former Beatle George Harrison will be remembered this week in a huge concert being staged by the Rainforest Foundation. The show to benefit the ecological group is scheduled for Saturday at Carnegie Hall in New York City.
According to gossip columnist Liz Smith, one of the driving forces behind the planning of the concert is Trudie Styler, the documentarian and producer recently named "the most stylish woman at the Oscars" by Fox News. Also to be remembered will be Herman Sandler, a humanitarian who died in the collapse of the World Trade Center towers. He was a close friend of Styler.
(Thanks to UPI's Dennis Daily)
R. Kelly has recorded a salute to America's armed forces.
His spokesperson tells MTV News the song -- titled "Soldier's Heart" -- was written and produced by the R&B singer and pays particular tribute to the soldiers who are fighting the war against terrorism. It hits stores April 23.
Proceeds from sales of the single will be donated to Army Emergency Relief (AER), an organization that provides financial assistance to active and retired soldiers and their families and to hospitalized veterans in Kelly's native Chicago.
The tune is Kelly's first solo work to be released since the Chicago Sun-Times reported in February that it had received a videotape of Kelly allegedly having sex with an underage girl. "The Best of Both Worlds, " the album Kelly recorded with Jay-Z, has seen poor sales since its release last month.
Kelly performed at the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics just after the tape surfaced, though he backed out of Tuesday's Urban Aid 2 benefit.
URBAN AID 2
The Roots, Musiq, Alicia Keys, Fat Joe, Ashanti, Ja Rule, P. Diddy & Family, and Jay-Z took the stage at New York's Beacon Theatre Tuesday night for a good cause -- AIDS awareness and prevention. The occasion was LIFEbeat's UrbanAID 2 benefit concert.
Hosted by comedian/actor Mike Epps, the show also featured Murder Inc. affiliates Vita, Charli "Chuck" Baltimore, and Caddilac Tah, who joined Ja Rule on stage for his set, Billboard.com reports. The event was taped for future broadcast on BET.
In addition to the music, LIFEbeat honored longtime supporters Maria Davis and actress Rosie Perez with the Spirit and Pioneer Awards, respectively.
LIFEbeat is a national non-profit organization dedicated to reaching America's youth with the message of HIV/AIDS prevention.
VH1 DIVAS LAS VEGAS
Mary J. Blige, Cher and Celine Dion are going Las Vegas. They're the first performers confirmed for "VH1 Divas Las Vegas: A Benefit Concert for the VH1 Save the Music Foundation," Billboard.com reports.
The event will air live May 23 from the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, marking the fifth such "Divas" special to date. Additional performers and presenters will be announced in the coming weeks.
Blige was on hand last year to honor Aretha Franklin for the fourth "Divas" special, which also featured Celia Cruz; Marc Anthony; the Backstreet Boys' Howie Dorough, A.J. McLean, and Kevin Richardson; Jill Scott; Nelly Furtado; and Kid Rock. Stevie Wonder joined the ensemble for a finale of Franklin's "Freeway of Love."
For Dion, next month's show will be a prelude to her three-year gig at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas, which starts in March 2003.
ROLLING ROCK TOWN FAIR
Godsmack and OutKast headline the third annual Rolling Rock Town Fair, slated for July 27 at the Westmoreland Fairgrounds in Latrobe, Pa. Also on the bill, RollingStone.com reports, are Nickelback, P.O.D., Alien Ant Farm, Sevendust, Default and Injected.
Members of Sevendust -- in Pittsburgh for a show Tuesday night -- appeared at Tuesday afternoon's news conference announcing the line-up. "I think this is gonna be one of the best concerts we've done in a long time," said the band's frontman, Lajon Witherspoon.
Dubbed "Rolling Rock Town Fair 3.3," the concert has been organized as "a thank you to loyal Rolling Rock drinkers," according to David van Wees, brand director for the beer, now owned by Labatts USA. He noted the fair also is a thank-you to music fans, and to residents of the pastoral Westmoreland County locale, where Rolling Rock is manufactured.
Last year, 45,000 fans traveled from across the states, Europe and Canada to catch Stone Temple Pilots, Live, Deftones, Incubus and other acts. The fair's 2000 debut featured the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Moby.
(Web site: rollingrock.com)
JEFFERSON AIRPLANE/HOT TUNA GUITARIST GOES COUNTRY
Rock and Roll Hall of Famer and guitarist Jorma Kaukonen of Jefferson Airplane and Hot Tuna fame will release an album of early country songs on June 11.
"Blue Country Heart" is Kaukonen's first for Columbia Records, CMT.com reports. It was recorded at Masterlink Studio in Nashville during a four-day period in January. Guest artists on the album include Nashville acoustic aces Sam Bush (mandolin), Jerry Douglas (Dobro) and Byron House (bass). Banjo specialist Bela Fleck also appears on two tracks.
In a news release, Kaukonen, 61, said he played old-time country music and early bluegrass when he first started on the guitar. He added that while the new recording has a "bluegrass flavor" because of the backgrounds of the Nashville players, "it's not bluegrass in a strict, traditional sense. It's a lot of this singer-songwriter stuff from the Depression era that has stuck with us over time."
Kaukonen was a founding member of the seminal rock group Jefferson Airplane. With bassist Jack Casady, he started Hot Tuna as a side project and they released the first album under that name in 1970, while both were still members of Jefferson Airplane. Hot Tuna, a favorite with jam band fans, remains active today.
Jimmy Buffett says his experience with making the musical soundtrack "Don't Stop The Carnival" helped him when it came time to work on his latest album, "Far Side of the World."
"I took more time," Buffett said. "I was more aware of how songs work and how they fit together."
Buffett said he then lucked out by being able to hook up with producer Russ Titelman, a friend of his. The two were never able to work together before although they always wanted to.
Guest artists on the album include Sonny Landreth, who played slide guitar, and John Hiatt, Buffett's first guitar player 30 years ago in Nashville.
Buffett is scheduled to perform May 4 at this year's New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival.
(Thanks to UPI's John Swenson in New York)
NME.com reports Peter Howson -- one of the Material Girl's favorite artists -- unveiled 10 new paintings of the singer and actress at a small gallery in Ayr, Scotland, Wednesday. He said he was disappointed that he hadn't heard from Madonna about the paintings, which he did from memory, even though he sent her copies several weeks ago.
Howson said the portraits are meant to show Madonna as a powerful and charismatic person, as well as touch on her religious upbringing.
The exhibit formally opens Saturdya and runs through June 4.